Having recently returned from a highly successful business trip to the UAE, Vered Ben Saadon, owner of Tura Wineries, is excited and optimistic. “After almost a year of not traveling due to COVID-19, the visit to Dubai was like a breath of fresh air,” she says.
Signing a lucrative contract for her boutique wines with one of the largest companies in the UAE is certainly reason for good cheer, but for Ben Saadon, it was about more than just economics. “We met wonderful people; they made us feel like family. The welcome was warm and sincere.”
Ben Saadon brought an assortment of her award-winning Tura wines as well as Tura olive oil to gift her hosts. In the UAE, despite the Muslim ban on alcohol, there is no prohibition against selling alcohol in public places. What’s more, 90% of the UAE population are non-Muslims who are fond of fine dining and they are eager to sample Israeli wines.
Ben Saadon and her husband Erez founded Tura Wineries in 2003, producing 1,200 bottles of wine. Since then, they’ve grown in quantity and quality, and today they produce 100,000 bottles a year of exquisite reds, whites and rosés that are enjoyed across the US, Canada, Europe and even South Korea.
“We’re located on Har Gerizim, in the heart of the Shomron. Due to the height, the cool climate and the soil, historically, this has always been premium grape-growing land,” she explains. “And, it was on this mountain that the Jewish People received many blessings after entering the Land of Israel. Erez and I, too, feel incredibly blessed to be living here and working this land.”
The people of Dubai expressed a friendly curiosity about everything connected to Israel. “Our meeting was about finding common denominators, and there are many. It was an amazing experience for me, sitting with sheikhs and eating pita with hummus, in a country that had no relations with Israel. They said that it was up to us, the business community, to break the ice between the two nations.
“I truly believe that bilateral ties with the UAE should give hope to people everywhere who are embroiled in any kind of conflict, regardless of the reason. In Dubai I learned that with a little bit of goodwill, anything is possible!”
By Hadassah Bay